Sunday, April 12, 2020

:: four roses small batch select ::

Last week, I received a package containing the new Four Roses product, Small Batch Select, as well as a sample of the regular Small Batch. Normally, I rather infrequently do spirits reviews on here, but I gave the go-ahead on this sample delivery since I figured that it would give us something to do during our time in quarantine. The Small Batch select is the first permanent addition to the Four Roses lineup since 2006, and it makes the fourth "rose" or permanent bottling option. The Select varies from the regular Small Batch by being at a higher proof (104° instead of 90°) and eschewing chill filtering. While both are mixes of 6 and 7 year old Bourbons and each contains the lower and higher rye mash bills (75/20/5 and 60/35/5), there was a difference in the yeast strains selected of the five: the Small Batch that I was sent opted for ones that produce robust fruitiness and slight spice character (yeast strains O and K, respectively), and the Select utilized delicate fruity flavor, light herbal essence, and the same slight spice character strains (yeast strains V, F, and K, respectively). I tasted these two samples against my bottle of Four Roses Yellow Label -- a circa 2019 80° bottling that is a mix of Bourbons that are around 5 years of age and generally consist of both mash bills and all five yeast strains (10 types in total although sometimes four yeast strains for 8 types in total). Not included in this tasting was their single barrel offering of a single mash bill-yeast strain combination generally aged longer and bottled at 100°. Here, I chose a Glencairn glass, did not add any water to the samples, and performed the tasting alongside Andrea, my wife and quarantine-mate.
Four Roses Yellow Label - circa 2019, 80 proof, chill filtered, around 5 years, 5 yeast strains-2 mash bills.
Nose: apple, pear, caramel, woody in a cedar way.
Taste: caramel, toffee, vanilla, clove, mint, allspice.
Four Roses Yellow Small Batch - 90 proof, chill filtered, a mix of 6 and 7 years, 2 yeast strains-2 mash bills.
Nose: maple, pear, softer wood notes akin to balsa.
Taste: Toffee, caramel, butterscotch, currant, mint, clove, cinnamon, vanilla on the finish.
Four Roses Yellow Small Batch Select - 104 proof, non-chill filtered, a mix of 6 and 7 years, 3 yeast strains-2 mash bills.
Nose: Caramel, raspberry, vanilla, wood in a pine and cedar way.
Taste: Caramel, toffee, melony soft fruits like pear and apricot, vanilla, mint, clove, allspice.

Overall, the Small Batch Select had more in common with the Yellow Label's flavor profile than the regular Small Batch did; however, it had an extra level of age (caramel richness and vanilla presence) and finesse over Four Roses' entry level product. While Andrea picked the Small Batch as her favorite, I leaned towards the Small Batch Select as the winner here.

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